Supreme Court of Canada to review Saskatchewan case relating to Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act News
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Supreme Court of Canada to review Saskatchewan case relating to Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act

The Supreme Court of Canada agreed on Thursday to hear prosecutors’ appeal of a decision that overturned a man’s conviction for firearms offences because he was arrested after a person he was with called emergency services to report a drug overdose. In the case His Majesty the King v. Paul Eric Wilson, the court will consider whether the Saskatoon Court of Appeal erred in overturning Paul Eric Wilson’s conviction and eight-year sentence.

Wilson was arrested the night one of his companions in a vehicle called 911 to report a Fentanyl overdose. Police saw a substance they believed to be crystal meth, and though Wilson denied it was his, he did possess a case with syringes and other drug-related items. Police officers continued to search the vehicle, discovering modified handguns and firearms, and Wilson was later arrested and charged with firearm offences.

At issue in the case is the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which Canada’s Parliament passed in 2017 as an amendment to the Controlled Drug and Substances ActAccording to this amendment:

No one who seeks emergency medical or law enforcement assistance because that person, or another person, is suffering from an overdose is to be charged or convicted under subsection 4(1) [of the Controlled Drug and Substances Act] if the evidence in support of that offence was obtained or discovered as a result of that person having sought assistance or having remained at the scene.

Wilson argues that, even though he was charged with firearms offences under the Criminal Code, the police’s search of the vehicle violated his rights under Sections 8 and 9 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because the search and arrest were prompted by the discovery of a controlled substance following an overdose report. Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Justice Robert W. Leurer agreed with Wilson and overturned his conviction at trial.

The Supreme Court of Canada will issue further clarifications when their decision is eventually released.